Intu shares fall 35% as Peel consortium drops bid

John Whittaker

UPDATE 2 — Shares of shopping center giant Intu Properties plc fell more than 35% on Thursday after a consortium led by its deputy chairman John Whittaker scrapped a £2.91 billion takeover offer for the firm.

The consortium, which included Peel Group, the investment vehicle of the Whittaker family, Saudi Arabia’s Olayan Group and Canadian property investor Brookfield Asset Management cited “uncertainty around current macroeconomic conditions” for the withdrawal.

Intu shares fell about 37% to around 120p, roughly half the 210.4p level of the consortium’s proposed bid, slashing Intu’s stock market value to about £1.6 billion.

Whittaker’s Peel already owns a stake of roughly 27% in Intu.

Intu’s shopping centres include Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Newcastle’s Eldon Square, Gateshead’s Metrocentre and Glasgow’s Braehead.

In a stock exchange statement, the consortium said: “The consortium hereby states that it does not intend to make an offer for the issued (and to be issued) share capital of intu not already owned by members of the consortium …

“The consortium is highly appreciative of the cooperation shown by intu’s board of directors and management team over the past six weeks.

“However, given the uncertainty around current macroeconomic conditions and the potential near-term volatility across markets, the consortium is not able to proceed with an offer within a timeframe which is manageable within the confines of the code timetable …

“As at the date of this announcement, Peel and Olayan, and their respective concert parties remain interested in 405,669,386 shares in intu in aggregate, representing approximately 29.9% of the share capital of intu.

“Brookfield has no interests in any shares in intu.”

John Whittaker, chairman of The Peel Group, said: “We remain fully committed to intu Properties as a long-term, strategic shareholder, as demonstrated by our participation in the consortium’s possible offer.

“Intu’s portfolio of super regional and prime city centre shopping centres is trading strongly and benefitting from the retailer store rationalisation process that is currently underway in the UK.

“Physical retail continues to play a key role in all successful multi-channel retailer sales strategies and intu’s national portfolio of centres enjoys some of the highest customer footfall in the country.

“There is also significant potential to add to the portfolio through development of under-utilised land for alternative uses such as residential, hotels and offices, creating critical mass in order to provide unparalleled, winning shopping and leisure destinations and experiences, across the UK and Spain.

“The Peel Group looks forward to continuing to work closely with the board and the company’s other supportive, long-term shareholders to deliver on the company’s planned investment programme.”